by Cema Dsouza
Riyadh, Jun 20 : 29-year-old Yasmin Al Maimani becomes the first woman to fly a commercial plane in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Al Maimani made her mark in the aviation world as she flew the Nesma Airlines flight ATR72 from Hail to Al Qasim on June 9. She’s the first female pilot to fly a scheduled commercial service in Saudi Arabia.
Yasmin swapped her pilot's license to a Saudi Arabian once after training in Jordan and the United States in 2013. She struggled to find work as most pilot positions are secured by men.
In February, Nesma Airlines offered Maimani a pilot trainee position. Four months later, it granted the aviator her commercial pilot’s permit.
Maimani shared a video from the cockpit during her inaugural flight as first officer was from Hail to Al Qasim return, then on to Tabuk before heading back to Hail, on Instagram.
Though initially concerned about being the only woman in a field dominated by men, Yasmin Maimani realized her fears were unfounded.
“I thought it was going to be hard, being a female pilot based in Hail but it hasn’t been. I feel so comfortable with everyone else here, and the way they treat me. It’s like they are all my brothers, it’s a good feeling,” she said.
Hoping to inspire more women into the field of aviation, she said, “I’d like to see more female pilots, this is my goal to open this door for everyone so that every girl or woman who dreams of becoming a pilot can see me, and be inspired to go ahead with their plan.”
In 2014, Hanadi Al Hind became the first female pilot in Saudi Arabia to get a license in the country. She piloted privately for Kingdom Holding Company owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
Maimani’s achievements follow the footsteps of Al Hind. She began her career in various ground roles in aviation but wasn’t happy there.
“Since I started flying with Nesma, every day is different," she said.
Yasmin Al Maimani’s passion for flying and a supportive family have helped her realize her goals.
Pics : Instagram
Maimani's family have been supportive of her career, with her father funding her training. Living the life of a pilot means she is often not at home for special occasions, but the first officer said her family “understand and take care of things for me when I’m not there”.
She is now focusing on becoming captain and securing more flying hours. Apart from flying, Maimani also wants to get involved in social work.
Saudi Arabia is working towards granting women equal rights and this is also one of their agendas in Vision 2030- the kingdom’s post-oil economic plan.
“Since Vision 2030 came up, lots of doors have opened for women across the country, every company is supporting women and there are more jobs available in aviation and other industries.
"I have already noticed it in air traffic control, as I hear women now when I’m communicating with the tower. It's an amazing feeling.” Al Maimani said.
Last year, the first Saudi Arabian flight school opened its doors to women to train in aviation. That was after the General Authority of Civil Aviation issued five licences for Saudi female pilots permitting them to work as captains on Saudi Arabian Airlines.
These changes are also part of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s objectives to attract more Saudi women in the industry.